The 2013/14 UAE horseracing season commences at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon with a large crowd expected for the first of their 11 meetings, staged on alternative Fridays, throughout the campaign.
Crowds of about 20,000 have been known to flock to arguably the UAE’s most popular racecourse, famous for its garden/tea party atmosphere with free admission for all.
Entrance to the VIP and hospitality areas is by invite or prearranged badge only, but anyone can attend the general areas where food and soft drinks are widely available.
With a first race time of 14:15, the gates open around midday with many families taking the opportunity to arrive early and picnic on the vast grassy expanses of the public areas.
Each racegoer is presented with a free raffle ticket giving them a chance to win one of 130 prizes, ranging from microwaves to iPads, while another 20,000 gifts will be distributed throughout the afternoon guaranteeing a colourful afternoon if nothing else.
The racecourse management also organise plenty of entertainment before racing and also between the second and third races. This can range from skydivers dropping in to the paddock, through local bands and dancers to cartoon characters parading for the kids.
However, the once popular children’s pastime of playing football adjacent to the course is no longer a feature due to an alarming number of footballs thrown onto the course during races in past years!
The course stages predominantly Thoroughbred racing, including three internationally recognised Stakes races – the Jebel Ali Stakes, Jebel Ali Mile and Jebel Ali Sprint.
The last named was won by the Satish Seemar-trained Spin Cycle in 2011 and he lines up in Friday’s featured 1,000m handicap over the same 1,000m course and distance. It is certainly the best race on a competitive card which looks certain to provide Pick Six players with a major headache.
With no gambling on course, the Pick Six is a free to enter series of competitions with contestants asked to nominate all six winners, as well as predict the first three home in each race. Certainly not easy, but with Dh68,000 to be won it is always worth a go.
If you have not been but enjoy your racing, Jebel Ali is always worth a visit, especially if you can gain access to the select areas – contact the course direct to see if any badges are available.
Or, if invited by a race sponsor, take up the offer – the hospitality boxes are above the main enclosure and the atmosphere is electric. Just remember, alcohol and gambling are not available on course and smart casual is the dress code in the ‘posh’ areas, plain old casual is fine in the ‘cheap seats’.
This is the first of 57 meetings in the UAE this season, culminating on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan on Saturday, March 29. The local flagship racecourse races for the first time next Thursday in a season we will race at Al Ain for the first time – starting early next year.
VENUE: Jebel Ali Racecourse
WHAT: Commencement of the 2013/14 UAE horseracing season
WHEN: First race thunders off at 14:15 this Friday, Nov 1, and races will continue every Friday onwards Sport360
VERDICT: Quit horsing around and get yourself to Jebel Ali for some cracking racing and a picnic atmosphere
CONTACT: 04 347 4914